The Ocean at the End of the Lane

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Boy! Have I been excited about this one?

Neil Gaiman, another one of my favourite authors announced the release of his new book a few months ago, and the Heavens have seen Disney and I discuss it over Facebook (now that law school is done with, what option do we have?). Of course, most of these painstaking discussions were about how to procure it. Pre-ordering the book was out of question: Flipkart indicated it was Out of Stock (?), HomeShop18 didn’t know who Neil Gaiman was and Amazon India has just began its business (who am I kidding? It was overpriced!). Also, I won’t buy ebooks unless it’s my last resort. Anyhow, Disney found it on one of the websites we usually scavenge – and that’s not the great part! She found it on the day it released. YAAY. So I read it that day itself, and I couldn’t be happier. This man kills me everytime he publishes something new.

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The summary goes like this:

THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE is a fable that reshapes modern fantasy: moving, terrifying and elegiac – as pure as a dream, as delicate as a butterfly’s wing, as dangerous as a knife in the dark, from storytelling genius Neil Gaiman.

It began for our narrator forty years ago when the family lodger stole their car and committed suicide in it, stirring up ancient powers best left undisturbed. Dark creatures from beyond the world are on the loose, and it will take everything our narrator has just to stay alive: there is primal horror here, and menace unleashed – within his family and from the forces that have gathered to destroy it.

His only defense is three women, on a farm at the end of the lane. The youngest of them claims that her duckpond is ocean. The oldest can remember the Big Bang.

And my FB status message after reading it goes like this:

Neil Gaiman, Why, WHY would you write a story so magical, so comforting, so fantastic in one seventy eight pages only? 178 pages, what were you thinking? You absolutely adorable curly-haired storyteller man, you! Now I cannot pick up another book and you have me running around the empty house, panicking and shaking my fists at boxes of Quaker Oats!

Yes, the book is actually a teeny-tiny book-let, a novella, if you may. One hundred and seventy eight pages ONLY. I was upset when I finished it. Not, because it was bad, nosir! But because it was sooo good that I didn’t want it to end. I mean, he writes after aeons and I finish the book in less than two hours; that is so not done!

Anyhow, the book is magical, to say the least. When you start reading it, the story sort of unfolds itself quietly and even before you know it, it has crept up inside you. It was like a bridge between childhood and growing up. As you begin reading it, you might feel like it is a book for children, but Gaiman is intelligent: he knows there is really no difference between children and adults!

The narrator is a young boy who is now a grown-up, and the story is through the eyes of his seven-year-old self – reticent, wary-of-the-world, lover-of-books, one who isn’t too upset that noone comes to his birthday party but is appalled by the idea that someone else is living in his room! Much like me. And so much changes for this unnamed narrator one night.

There’s so much I want to say about this book. But it would be wrong. Just violating to all the other readers who are waiting for this one. All that is left to say is that the story will stay with me, like an unfinished song. 🙂

P.S. – There are so many quotable quotes in the book but I’ve decided which ones are my favourite.

“I went away in my head, into a book. That was where I went whenever real life was too hard or too inflexible.”

“Books were safer than other people anyway.”

“I lived in books more than I lived anywhere else.”

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Ten Things I’m Afraid Of

I’m reading Code Name Verity right now – I’m about 36% done, as per the Kindle, so I have a pretty long way to go. But the narrator just updated her list of her fears and in commiseration, I will put down a list of mine here. After that I will get back to the book and boy, will I finish it! There’s just so much to read!

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  1. I’m afraid of dying without reading all the books I want to read. Alternatively, I’m afraid of reading all the books I’ve ever wanted; that would be terrible, too.
  2. Growing up (not growing old, mind you). Growing up comes with a price; I’m not sure if I’m grown up enough to understand that. I have the Peter Pan syndrome and I’m quite delighted about it.
  3. Too many people.
  4. This aforementioned fear has evolved into never having any time to myself. With facebook, whatsapp, gmail, texting – I can’t stay away from people, even when I want to. And that is frustrating.
  5. Not being able to travel.
  6. Losing my parents
  7. Someone messing up my bookshelf/cupboard/drawers (this is mostly OCD, I know)
  8. Dropping/scratching/breaking my Kindle
  9. Lizards. How could I forget these guys? These vile vermins. Ughh.
  10. The friendship between the Boy and me changing – this is my number one fear right now. We’ve been apart for a long while now.

I will update this list, of course. 🙂

I will get back to my book now. Have happy Sunday, people!

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

I cannot for the life of me remember how I came across Mary Ann Shaffer’s The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Not a lot of people seem to have read it but it does have splendid ratings on Goodreads. However, that is not why I began reading it.

I have this habit with books, as with people. If I don’t like it after I’ve begun, I don’t force myself to carry on with it. I do try to get back to it at some point, making an earnest attempt to complete it. I read about fifty to seventy pages and if I like it, I read on. If I don’t, well … you know. I was reading Guernsey on the Kindle and even before I knew it, I was half-way through and was in love with the protagonist, Juliet Ashton – who is in many parts is like me. She likes the men in her favourite books more than the men she goes out with, she still can’t figure out what she wants from life, she loves her books so much that she breaks off her engagement when she realizes her finance has usurped her bookshelves. Ashton is introduced to a book club, born out of a lie to German soldiers, in Guernsey through a man, Dawsey Adams, who has come across her name written in a book by Charles Lamb. And thus begins a flurry of letters – which is in fact the novel (yes, the novel is an epistolary) – from the members of the book club to Juliet and her replies to them and her friend and publisher, Sidney.

In parts, the novel subtly talks about the torture in the Concentration Camps in Germany, the German Occupation and the transition that is hoped for in the Channel Islands. You can see the characters trying to come to terms with the War, and in their own way. Through reading. The book discusses many books, and many authors and there is a moment with Oscar Wilde in it and while you’re turning the pages, you may go whoaa!

It’s a quick read, possibly a great book to carry during a trip somewhere or even sit with a cup of beaten coffee and a box of Oreos, while you devour Juliet’s wonderful journey into Guernsey, her love-affair with writing and finding love.

I’ll give this book four of out five stars.

At the moment, I’m reading The Remains of the Day by Ishiguro and loving it.

Of Book Photos

I don’t know why but for some reason I had forgotten about this blog. I know, I know – I’m weird. Also, there’s noone to remind me to post because except for the Boy, noone knows I write in here. Anyhow, so exactly five and a half minutes ago, I put down the book (the Kindle, actually) I was reading and sent the ‘reset password’ link to my mail to be able to open WordPress.

Then, I realized I really did not want to write.

The book – The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society – I am reading right now has become extremely interesting and I don’t think I want to distract myself. The book, by the way, is an epistolary novel – a novel that is shaped through a series of letters that characters write to each other – and something that talks about a literary society during the Nazi period. The last time I was this excited was when I was flipping through the pages of The Book Thief, frantically. I think I have a thing for novels that are based on the Nazi period and The Holocaust. I don’t know if that is a good thing or a bad thing, though.

So, I leave you with photographs. These are my books, the ones that I brought back from my college – during the packing and the unpacking process. (My clothes, by the way, are still in the suitcase!)

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The BIG suitcase filled with my books the night before the packers came. I had deliberately put Douglas Adams’ So Long And Thanks for All the Fish on top as an obvious message before I left. However, noone seemed to understand it (Damn it!).

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The evening the packers delivered my stuff. I arranged and re-arranged till my OCD-laden heart was happy. That red thingie is my love, my Kindle.

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The favourite shelf (there’s a less favourite shelf, too) after arranging it. The toys all over it are an embarrassment, I know. Bleh.

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